What do you need to prepare your facility to receive an additive machine, especially a metal additive system? Here are a few recommendations.
- Be sure you have the right voltage available, or devices to make the additive machines compatible with U.S. voltage. Many metal laser-based systems use European voltage, typically, 230 volts or 400 volts.
- Consider a dedicated transformer just for the metal 3D printing facility. Have an electrician look at facility drawings and specs early to ensure you have the right transformers for drop lines that must handle large voltage and current.
- Be sure the facility offers access to water. Water is needed for the wet separator to passivate the filter from soot and excess powder.
- A supply of Inert gas. If you’re working with nonreactive alloys, such as the steels and the Inconels, nitrogen is sufficient. Argon is recommended for reactive alloys. Argon will come in cylinders, so be sure to allocate sufficient space to store them.
- ESD flooring. You do not want electrostatic discharge in the same area as reactive metal powders. Follow ESD procedures, especially if you have multiple operators using this equipment.
- Ventilation, especially when using inert gases.
- A method to restrict access to the additive room or lab. Portions of metal 3D printing require the use of special dress or equipment because of safety issues. Restricting access, such as with a badge or a number lock, will add to those protections. Consider using doors that give some visibility into the room, as well.
- Environmental disposal. The safest route is to contract with a third party to pick up any wastes and dispose of them. The EPA categorizes users by the amount of hazardous material generated and stored. Each designation must meet specific requirements. A very small quantity generator (VSQG) means you’re generating less than 220 pounds per month of hazardous material for disposal, and you have less than 2,200 pounds stored at any given time. For comparison, the average Concept Laser MLab runs about six, seven pounds of material at a time. Be sure to work with the EPA regulations in your area or country.
Your vendor will also offer suggestions for the most efficient and safest installtion of an additive system.